More Bluster From Bath

Posted 17th November 2020 by Dave Cross
Advocates mobilised on social media to address the problems with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) approach to vaping. The action took place during a meeting of signatories to the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2018. Rather than accept the well-argued and referenced points being made, Department for Health at the University of Bath (a front group for unelected billionaire Michael Bloomberg) chose to accuse advocates of being in the pay of Big Tobacco.

Researchers analysed over 9,000 tweets and retweets, finding that PMI and its allies dominated the Twittersphere with messages that helped promote its business agenda,” the Bath department lied. “Individuals and organisations with connections to Philip Morris International (PMI) used Twitter to push pro-vaping messages.”

The 182 signatories to the FCTC are known as the Conference Of Parties (COP). The event in 2018 was the eighth meeting – COP8.

Vapers and experts weren’t individuals, according to the university. No, the money they received from Bloomberg meant that we all fell under the heading of “PMI and its allies”.

Bath’s researchers say that messages from PMI, and the people and organisations it funds, using the #COP8FCTC hashtag, “dominated the Twittersphere during, and immediately after, the meeting with messages that helped promote its business agenda.”

Co-author Dr Karen Evans-Reeves said: “We know from the Reuters investigation that, in 2016, PMI set up an ‘operations room’ in a hotel near the COP7 venue, to influence conference delegates. And tobacco industry representatives have posed as journalists or members of the public to access COP sessions. To prevent this at COP8, the public and the media were barred from official sessions.”


At least this bit is almost true – consumers and independent journalists were indeed barred from seeing any of the activity being carried out in their name.

However,” Evans-Reeves continued, “the lack of regulation of online media means that tobacco companies can easily use Twitter to promote their agenda to a large audience. 'Tobacco companies, with their for-profit motive’ should not have a voice in policy consultations, be it their own voice or a third-party voice.”

So, from the sound of it, not only is Evans-Reeves happy to have members of the public barred from seeing what they are paying for, she would also like Twitter to be censored so that they can’t comment on the proceedings either.

Dr Adriana Blanco Marquizo, Head, Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, repeated this call for an officious, totalitarian, and blinkered approach: “While the reaction of the tobacco industry and of those who work to further its interests shows us that we are on the right path, we can’t allow them to dominate the debate in social media channels.

“Today, more than ever, I call on civil society around the world, to help us to make the voice of the tobacco control community, our voice, heard.”


Once more, Bloomberg’s minions are attempting to ignore the arguments for tobacco harm reduction by casting aspersions on the motivations of those advocating for a sensible approach rather than engaging in a discussion of the science. It’s shoddy, unscientific, and troubling.

Of concern is that Cancer Research UK (CRUK) part-funded this work. Some are questioning whether the public would be happy that their donations are being used in such a way. CRUK has been publicising the release on social media, declaring it to be "exciting".

Planet of the Vapes has contacted CRUK asking it to explain how the attack on consumer advocates can be described in such a way. It is yet to respond.


  • WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control – [link]]
  • Exploring the Twitter activity around the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control”, by Robertson, Evans-Reeves et al. – [link]
  • New Nicotine Alliance Call To UK Delegation – [link]
  • 72 Experts – [link]
  • Trade Associations Attack WHO – [link]

Muckspreading image by Pascvii from Pixabay

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, motorbikes, and dog walker